Frequently asked questions

How did HighScope get its name?

HighScope’s founder, the late David Weikart, relates that the name was chosen “at the end of a long evening of heady and serious discussion about [the program’s] purpose and goals.” They chose “high” to signify their aspiration level and “scope” to describe the breadth of vision they hoped to achieve.

How does the HighScope approach differ from other early childhood programs?

The HighScope educational approach is consistent with the best practices recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Head Start Program Performance Standards, and other guidelines for developmentally based programs.

Within this broad framework, however, HighScope has unique features that differentiate it from other early childhood programs. One is the daily plan-do-review sequence. Research shows that planning and reviewing are the two components of the program day most positively and significantly associated with children’s scores on measures of developmental progress.

A second unique feature is our curriculum content, the social, intellectual, and physical building blocks that are essential to young children’s optimal growth. Our content areas are organized in eight main categories that correspond to state and national learning standards; the categories are (1) Approaches to Learning; (2) Social and Emotional Development; (3) Physical Development and Health; (4) Language, Literacy, and Communication; (5) Mathematics; (6) Creative Arts; (7) Science and Technology; and (8) Social Studies.

What is the evidence that the HighScope approach works?

HighScope is perhaps best known for the HighScope Perry Preschool Project study, which compared low-income children who attended our program with those who did not. As adults, preschool participants had higher high school graduation rates, higher monthly earnings, less use of welfare, and fewer arrests than those without the program. In addition to benefiting the individuals who attended preschool, these results show that preschool leads to savings for taxpayers: for every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education, society saves $13 in the cost of special education, public assistance, unemployment benefits, and crime. Research also shows that HighScope training with teachers and caregivers is highly effective. In a national study, teachers with HighScope training had higher quality programs than did similar teachers without such training. Higher quality programs were in turn linked to better developmental outcomes for children.

How do I know if HighScope aligns to my program standards?

HighScope’s key developmental indicators and assessment tools can be aligned with the teaching standards and child outcomes required by states, school districts, and federally funded programs. For example, COR Advantage aligns with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework and Common Core State Standards as well as state early learning standards. Similarly, the Head Start User Guide to the PQA (included in the Administration Manual of the second edition of the Preschool PQA) connects each PQA item to the relevant criteria in the Head Start Program Performance Standards. The HighScope educational approach can also be cross-mapped with the early childhood standards of virtually every local school district or state department of education. As a whole, the HighScope Curriculum and teaching approach are compatible with the best developmental practices recommended by respected practitioner groups.

Who uses HighScope?

The HighScope approach serves the full range of children and families from all social, financial, and ethnic backgrounds. The approach is used in public and private agencies, half- and full-day preschools, Head Start programs, public school prekindergarten programs, child care centers, home-based child care programs, and programs for children with special needs. HighScope teaching practices are also used in K-5 schools around the country. In addition to programs throughout the United States using HighScope, HighScope Institutes or Teacher Education Centers are located in Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, and the UK.

What does a HighScope program setting look like?

The space and materials in a HighScope setting are carefully chosen and arranged to promote active learning. Although we do not endorse specific types or brands of toys and equipment, HighScope does provide general guidelines for selecting materials that are meaningful and interesting to children. The learning environment in HighScope programs has the following characteristics:
Is welcoming to children

  • Provides enough materials for all the children
  • Allows children to find, use, and return materials independently
  • Encourages different types of play and learning
  • Allows the children to see and easily move through all the areas of the classroom or center
  • Is flexible so children can extend their play by bringing materials from one area to another
  • Provides materials that reflect the diversity of children’s family lives
What's HighScope's Daily Routine?

HighScope classrooms follow a predictable sequence of events known as the daily routine. This provides a structure so children feel confident to make choices, follow their interests, and develop their abilities in each content area. Each HighScope program decides on the routine that works best for its setting, but, the following segments are always included during the day.


Unique to the HighScope approach, this sequence includes a 10–15-minute small-group time where children plan what they want to do during work time (the area to visit, materials to use, and friends to play with); a 45–60-minute work time for carrying out their plans; and another 10–15-minute small-group time to review what they’ve done and learned with an adult and other children. Children are very active and purposeful during “do” time because they are pursuing activities that interest them. They may follow their initial plans, but often, as they become engaged, their plans shift or even change completely.


Adults choose a small-group activity to emphasize one or more content areas. A group of 6–8 children are free to experiment with materials and solve problems with the support of an adult. The length of small group varies with the age, interests, and attention span of the children. At the end of the period, children help with cleanup.


Large-group time builds a sense of community. Up to 20 children and 2 adults come together for movement and music activities, storytelling, and other shared experiences. Children have many opportunities to make choices and play the role of leader. Daily large-group times include an opening activity in which children and teachers gather around a message board to “read” messages in words and pictures about the events of the day.

Outside time

Children and adults spend at least 30 minutes outside every day, enjoying vigorous and often noisy play in the fresh air. Without the constraints of four walls, they feel freer to make large movements and experiment with the full range of their voices. Children run, climb, swing, roll, jump, yell, and sing with energy. They experience the wonders of nature, including collecting, gardening, and examining wildlife. During extreme weather or other unsafe conditions, teachers find an alternative indoor location for large-motor activity.


Transitions are the minutes between other blocks of the day, as well as arrival and departure times. Our goal is to make transitions pass smoothly since they set the stage for the next segment in the day’s schedule. They also provide meaningful learning opportunities themselves. Whenever possible, we give children choices about how to make the transition. For example, they may choose how to move across the floor on their way to small-group time. With a consistent daily routine children know what is going to take place next, and it is not unusual for them to announce the next activity and initiate the transition.

Eating and resting

Meals and snacks allow children to enjoy eating healthy food in a supportive, social setting. Rest is for quiet, solitary activities. We strive to respect family customs at these times as much as possible. Our main goal is to create a shared and secure sense of community within the program.

Can HighScope help children learn how to resolve conflicts?

Conflict is inevitable during the course of children’s play, this does not mean children are bad, selfish, or mean, they simply have not yet learned how to interpret social cues, understand other viewpoints, or match their behavior to the situation. To help children learn how to resolve their conflicts, HighScope teachers are trained to use this six-step process to solve problems:

  1. Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions or language — A calm manner reassures children that things are under control and can be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.
  2. Acknowledge feelings — Children need to express their feelings before they can let go of them and think about possible solutions to the problem.
  3. Gather information — Adults are careful not to make assumptions or takes sides. We ask open-ended questions to help children describe what happened in their own words.
  4. Restate the problem — Using the information provided by the children, the adult restates the problem, using clear and simple terms and, if necessary, rephrasing hurtful words.
  5. Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together — Adults encourage children to suggest solutions, helping to put them in practical and concrete terms. We accept their ideas, rather than impose our own, thus giving children the satisfaction of having solved the problem.
  6. Give follow-up support as needed — Adults help children begin to carry out their solution, making sure that no one remains upset. If necessary, we repeat one or more steps until all the children return to their play.
How does HighScope engage with families?

Many of the activities that HighScope teachers offer in their programs can also be done by families at home. Parents can provide many different learning materials, using everyday objects that cost little or nothing. Parents can encourage children to make plans, carry them out, and talk about what they have learned from their experiences. Parents can be more predictable in their routines so children know what to expect. And they can use the steps of conflict resolution to help children resolve disputes with siblings and friends. HighScope classrooms welcome visits from parents and encourage them to participate in field trips and other special events. We are especially eager for parents to share things about their families and culture so they can be incorporated into the program’s daily routine. In addition, staff hold regular workshops to help parents understand child development and how it is fostered at school and home. Teachers and caregivers conduct at least one home visit and two conferences with parents each year to share what is happening in the program in general and with their child in particular. In sum, HighScope regards parents and teachers as partners in promoting children’s learning.

How does HighScope evaluate program quality?

A proven model can only benefit children if it is implemented with high levels of fidelity, which is why we accredit programs and certify teachers and trainers with the Program Quality Assessment (PQA). Trained evaluators observe in the classroom and interview program staff to record objective notes and complete ratings on 63 dimensions in seven areas: learning environment, daily routine, adult-child interaction, curriculum planning and assessment, parent involvement and family services, staff qualifications and staff development, and program management. The PQA is also an excellent tool for staff development, because detailed examples of “ideal” implementation are built into the scoring system. The PQA is used in state and national evaluation projects to assess the impact of training and examine the relationship between program quality and children’s development.

How does HighScope assess child development?

HighScope assesses child development using COR Advantage, HighScope’s research-validated child assessment tool that spans children ages 0-6. Observing a broad range of behaviors over several weeks or months gives us a more accurate picture of children’s true capabilities than tests administered in one-time sessions. Using the content areas as a framework, teachers record daily anecdotes describing what children do and say. Two or three times a year, they review these anecdotes and rate each child at the highest level he or she has demonstrated so far on 34 items in eight areas of development. Children’s COR Advantage scores help teachers design learning opportunities tailored to their level of development. COR Advantage is also used to explain children’s progress to parents during conferences. Instead of only giving parents abstract scores, teachers share anecdotes illustrating what their children are doing now and how they will continue to grow. HighScope has also used this assessment instrument in state and national research projects to investigate the effectiveness of our educational approach and to compare it to other curriculum models.

Who's in HighScope's Photos?

Most of the images used in HighScope’s marketing and training materials are photos from our own Demonstration Preschool, professional learning courses, annual conference, and at various HighScope programs around the world. 

Tell me more about HighScope's professional learning

HighScope has conducted training in every state and in more than 20 foreign countries. We hold an annual international conference on education in Michigan as well as several regional conferences throughout the year.

Professional learning courses are held at individual program locations, online, and at our headquarters in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where we operate a Demonstration Preschool visited by hundreds of educators each year. To accommodate different training needs and schedules, HighScope offers a variety of face-to-face and online courses ranging from one day to multiple weeks. Training combines theory with practical application. HighScope curriculum courses cover all aspects of understanding and implementing the educational approach with children. Adult training courses enable those in supervisory positions to train and support staff at their own agencies as they use the HighScope model.

HighScope has collaborative arrangements with institutions of higher education, enabling participants to earn undergraduate or graduate credit for attending training. Successful completion of HighScope course work also results in teacher or trainer certification, or program accreditation, based on rigorous evaluation criteria including assessment with the PQA. Anyone with an interest in HighScope can join the HighScope Membership Association to receive updated information about activities as well as free resources and discounts on HighScope products and services.

For Training Materials

If you are a trainer or other educational staff member of a Head Start, public school district, child care center, or other nonprofit organization and would like to make copies in limited numbers that will be distributed free of charge for in-house workshops, please contact the Publications department at [email protected].

Permissions and Reprints

All of HighScope’s books, DVDs, and other materials, including the contents of this website, are protected by copyright and trademark laws. Unless your use of the materials is considered fair use, you must obtain permission to reproduce materials published by HighScope. The following list provides you with information about how to obtain permission to reproduce HighScope materials:

Course Packs, Classroom Handouts, and Online Course Materials

If you are a college professor or a publisher preparing materials that will be sold (including HighScope DVDs streamed via your organization’s intranet or extranet), or for library reserves or interlibrary loans, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center:

Copyright Clearance Center


Research Projects

For permission to reproduce or modify HighScope materials in research projects, please contact the Research department at [email protected].

Library Reserves

For library reserves or interlibrary loans, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.


If you want to reuse materials from HighScope-copyrighted articles, books, training manuals, brochures, DVDs, and other materials by republishing that material in another form (including electronic forms), send a written request to the Publications department at [email protected]. A fee may be assessed for republication.